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Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden III
Full name Madison Square Garden
Location New York City, New York
Coordinates 40°45′45″N 73°59′16″W / 40.7624°N 73.9877°W / 40.7624; -73.9877Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°59′16″W / 40.7624°N 73.9877°W / 40.7624; -73.9877
Opened 1925
Closed 1968
Owner Tex Rickard
Operator Tex Rickard
Capacity Basketball: 18,496
Ice Hockey: 15,925
Tenants
New York Rangers (NHL) (1926–1968)
New York Knicks (NBA) (1946–1968)
New York Americans (NHL) (1925-1942)
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (1943–1948, 1950)
Bulldogging champion Cowboy Morgan Evans competition chit at Madison Square Garden's 1928 World Series Rodeo

Madison Square Garden III was the name of an indoor arena in New York City. Built in 1925 and closing in 1968, the arena hosted the New York Knicks of the NBA, New York Rangers of the NHL, countless boxing matches, concerts, and many other events. It had a maximum seating capacity of 18,496 spectators. It was eventually replaced by the current Madison Square Garden. It was the first Garden that was not located in Madison Square.

1925-26 New York Americans game program cover for hockey at Madison Square Garden

It was built on 50th Street and Eighth Avenue by boxing promoter Tex Rickard and was dubbed "The House That Tex Built."[1] The New York Rangers, owned by Rickard, got their name from a wordplay on his name (Tex's Rangers). It was built in 249 days on the site of the city's streetcar barns. However, the Rangers were not the first NHL team to play at the Garden; the New York Americans had begun play in 1925 and were so wildly successful at the gate that Rickard wanted his own team as well. The Rangers were founded in 1926 and both teams played at the Garden until the Americans folded in 1942, the Rangers having stolen their commercial success with their own success on the ice (winning three Stanley Cups between 1928 and 1940). The Americans suspended operations due to World War II, and Garden management's refusal to allow the resurrection of the team after the war was one of the popular theories underlying the Curse of 1940 that supposedly prevented the Rangers from winning the Stanley Cup again until 1994, happened at Madison Square Garden.

While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had debuted at the Garden in 1919, the third Garden saw large numbers of performances. The circus was so important to the Garden that when the Rangers played in the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, the team was forced to play all games on the road (the Rangers won the series anyway). The circus would continue to perform as often as three times daily, repeatedly knocking the Rangers out of the Garden at playoff time, throughout the life of the third Garden. Even at the fourth Garden, games would have to begin as late as 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the circus. The Circus Acrobatics were very dramatic including acts in the Rings as well as on the high wire and trapeze. One dramatic act which was only performed in the Garden, and not taken on the road with the traveling Circus, involved Blinc Candlin, a Hudson, New York fireman, who rode his (already antique) 1880s High Wheel bicycle on the high wire every season for over 2 decades starting in the 1910s and running well through the 1930s.

Boxing was Madison Square Garden III's principal claim to fame. The building exterior in contrast to the ornate towers of the first two Garden was a simple box. Its most distinctive feature was its ornate marquee that was above the main entrance, with its seemingly endless abbreviations (Tomw., V/S, Rgrs, Tonite, Thru, etc.) Even the name was abbreviated: Madison Sq. Garden. On January 17, 1941, 23,190 people witnessed Fritzie Zivic successful welterweight defense against Henry Armstrong. That is the biggest attendance record of any of the Gardens. MSG III was featured prominently in the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man (although exterior montage shots glorified it by placing it against the Times Square signs on Broadway when it was in fact one block west).

The NHL New York Rangers were a prime tenant of the 50th St. MSG from 1926 to 1968 (1932-33 Team Picture)

It hosted the only indoor bout in the career of Jack Dempsey. It cost $4.75 million to build; this one hosted seven NCAA men's basketball championships between 1943 and 1950.

City College of New York (CCNY) was one of the first schools banned from playing at MSG due to the 1951 CCNY Point Shaving Scandal.[2]

It also hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1954 and 1955. Ironically one type of event that was never held in the 50th St. MSG (except in the movies) was a national Democratic or Republican nominating convention as neither of these parties met in New York to select their candidates for President and Vice President of the United States between 1924 and 1976.

The third Garden had poor sightlines, especially for hockey, and fans sitting in the upper deck could count on having some portion of the ice obstructed, unless they sat in the first row. The fact that there was poor ventilation and that smoking was permitted often led to a haze in the upper portions of the Garden.

When it was torn down, there was a proposal to build the world's tallest building on its site prompting a major battle in its Hell's Kitchen neighborhood that ultimately resulted in strict height restrictions. The space remained a parking lot though until 1989 when Worldwide Plaza designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill opened.

See also

References

  1. ^ Schumach, Murray (February 14, 1968). Next and Last Attraction at Old Madison Square Garden to Be Wreckers' Ball, The New York Times
  2. ^ Nat Holman: The Man, His Legacy and CCNY. "The 1951 Basketball Scandal" - The City College Library - City College of New York

External links

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